Big Data looks inwards to transform network management and application delivery

Strawberry and Blackberry CloseWe’ve all heard of the business applications touted by big data advocates – data-driven purchasing decisions, enhanced market insights and actionable customer feedback. These are undoubtedly of great value to businesses, yet organisations only have to look inwards to find further untapped potential. Here Manish Sablok, Head of Field Marketing NWE at ALE explains the two major internal IT processes that can benefit greatly from embracing big data: network management and application delivery.

SNS Research estimated Big Data investments reached $40 billion worldwide this year. Industry awareness and reception is equally impressive – ‘89% of business leaders believe big data will revolutionise business operations in the same way the Internet did.’ But big data is no longer simply large volumes of unstructured data or just for refining external business practices – the applications continue to evolve. The advent of big data analytics has paved the way for smarter network and application management. Big data can ultimately be leveraged internally to deliver cost saving efficiencies, optimisation of network management and application delivery.

What’s trending on your network?

Achieving complete network visibility has been a primary concern of CIOs in recent years – and now the arrival of tools to exploit big data provides a lifeline. Predictive analytics techniques enable a transition from a reactive to proactive approach to network management. By allowing IT departments visibility of devices – and crucially applications – across the network, the rise of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend can be safely controlled.

The newest generation of switch technology has advanced to the stage where application visibility capability can now be directly embedded within the most advanced switches. These switches, such as the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise OmniSwitch 6860, are capable of providing an advanced degree of predictive analytics. The benefits of these predictive analytics are varied – IT departments can establish patterns of routine daily traffic in order to swiftly identify anomalies hindering the network. Put simply, the ability to detect what is ‘trending’ – be it backup activities, heavy bandwidth usage or popular application deployment – has now arrived.

More tasks can be automated than ever before, with a dynamic response to network and user needs becoming standard practice. High priority users, such as internal teams requiring continued collaboration, can be prioritised the necessary network capacity in real-time.

Trees, silhouetted in the mistEffectively deploy, monitor and manage applications

Effective application management has its own challenges, such as the struggle to enforce flexible but secure user and device policies. Big data provides the business intelligence necessary to closely manage application deployment by analysing data streams, including application performance and user feedback. Insight into how employees or partners are using applications allows IT departments to identify redundant features or little used devices and to scale back or increase support and development accordingly.

As a result of the increasing traffic from voice, video and data applications, new network management tools have evolved alongside the hardware. The need to reduce the operational costs of network management, while at the same time providing increased availability, security and multimedia support has led to the development of unified management tools that offer a single, simple window into applications usage. Centralised management can help IT departments predict network trends, potential usage issues and manage users and devices – providing a simple tool to aid business decisions around complex processes.

Through the effective deployment of resources based on big data insight, ROI can be maximised. Smarter targeting of resources makes for a leaner IT deployment, and reduces the need for investment in further costly hardware and applications.

Networks converging on the future

Big data gathering, processing and analytics will all continue to advance and develop as more businesses embrace the concept and the market grows. But while the existing infrastructure in many businesses is capable of using big data to a limited degree, a converged network infrastructure, by providing a simplified and flexible architecture, will maximise the benefits and at the same time reduce Total Cost of Ownership – and meet corporate ROI requirements.

By introducing this robust network infrastructure, businesses can ensure a future-proof big data operation is secure. The advent of big data has brought with it the ability for IT departments to truly develop their ‘smart network’. Now it is up to businesses to seize the opportunity.

Written by Manish Sablok, Head of Field Marketing NWE at Alcatel Lucent Enterprise